Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that rights activist Chen Xi (陈西), one of the organizers of an annual Guizhou Human Rights Symposium to take place around Human Rights Day, December 10 – which commemorates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – has been held by police since 10:00 a.m., Beijing time, Monday, December 7, 2009. Chen was taken away by State Security police in Guiyang as he left his home that morning. State Security police are usually stationed in front of his home around the time of what the authorities consider to be “sensitive” occasions. According to Wu Yuqin (吴玉琴), a member of the Guizhou group, Chen sent a text message to his wife on Monday night saying that the police told him they were taking him on a “trip” (旅行) for several days and would release him after December 10.
Wu told HRIC that the group had planned to convene the symposium in Guiyang’s Qian Ling Park (黔灵公园) on Sunday morning, Beijing time, December 6, but participants, including herself, were stopped either in front of their homes or while on their way to the park, or taken away from the park. Some were also physically searched and had their cell phones confiscated. The people intercepted and/or harassed include: Shen Youlian (申有连), Mo Jiangang (莫建刚), Huang Yanming (黄燕明), Chen Defu (陈德富), Zhu Zhengyuan (朱正元), Sha Li (莎莉), and Zhang Chongfa (张重发).
Wu said that a policeman told her that all activities in the name of the Guizhou Human Rights Symposium were illegal.
According to Wu, she and her husband, Liao Shuangyuan (廖双元), were summoned by the police on November 14, who warned them not to participate in any Human Rights Day commemorative activities. Wu’s husband went into hiding in late November in order to avoid further harassment.
The Guizhou group began organizing the Human Rights Symposium in 2005, and has been harassed and/or detained by police authorities every year since 2006. Wu said that this year she is not hopeful that they will succeed in carrying out their commemorative activities, but that they are determined to try.
“The suppression of peaceful activities to commemorate Human Rights Day is a clear indication of the worsening human rights situation in China,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “The international community must closely monitor this trend, which, as China wields increasing power in the world, has the potential to also seriously impact the human rights situation beyond its borders.”
HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to immediately release Chen Xi and stop suppressing any activities that are meant to educate the public about universal human rights.
For more information about the rights defenders in Guizhou, see: